IN decades of pest control John Birkett has seen many things, but nothing like this.

This giant wasps' nest had eaten into the bed of a spare bedroom at a Winchester house.

Mr Birkett said: “In 45 years I have never seen anything like it. There must have been 5,000 wasps.”

The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, lives alone in the five-bedroom house in St Cross and had not been in the spare room for three months before her son opened the door and saw the huge nest. The window had been left open.

The wasps were chewing through the pillows and into the mattress to expand their home. The nest measured about three feet wide by two-and-a-half feet deep.

“I opened the door and I just couldn’t bloody believe it," Mr Birkett said. "It was the most incredible thing I've seen.

“I got dressed up like a spaceman and tried to destroy as many as I could with the workers flying around the room."

The nest split in half during the struggle, releasing 2,000 wasps. "I was covered in them," he said. "The room was completely full of wasps."

Mr Birkett, of Owslebury-based Longwood Services, used chemical spray to kill the insects during the two-hour operation on Sunday (August 24).

But he had mixed feelings about putting so many creatures to death. “It is amazing how they build it, by chewing the wood off gates and things. Although they are a pest in homes, they are a friend of the gardener by killing aphids.

“People think we’re out-and-out killers but I looked at that and thought ‘what a shame’ – it was a work of art and they worked so hard, but she looked at it and said ‘no no no – you’ve got to get rid of it’.

"The client was terrified."

Mr Birkett was able to save a hand-made blanket under the nest at his client's request.